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Some of the 9,000 vials of smuggled snake venom seized by police. Photo courtesy of Interpol.

The next time you crack open vial of snake venom, you might want to think about where it came from.

Last month, Moldova police working with Interpol seized 9,000 capsules of smuggled snake venom and arrested six people in a sting (no pun intended) operation.

“Organized criminal networks seek to exploit many types of illicit or smuggled goods in order to fund themselves, though this is the first case Interpol is aware of involving such an unusual and exotic item as snake venom,” Michael Ellis, Head of Interpol’s Trafficking in Illicit Goods and Counterfeiting unit, said in a prepared statement.

The ring allegedly obtained the poison from Afghanistan, which points to the presence of a large snake milking operation in that country. The vials totalled 5 kg, and the smugglers were asking €2.5 million.

Snake venom is used in the medical industry and can help create anti-venom treatments. Interpol says snake juice fetches €800 to 2,000 per gram on the legit market.